Emanuel's budget: How many aldermen will vote no?

November 16, 2011

Download Story
(AP/M. Spencer Green)

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's first budget comes up for a city council vote Wednesday, and the outcome is not in doubt. The proposal relies on cuts, layoffs, fines and fee increases to address a more than $600 million deficit. 

Emanuel has tinkered with his original proposal to appease some aldermen. There's still grumbling, but make no mistake: It's gonna pass easily.

The only question is how many of the 50 aldermen will vote against it.

"It could be six or it could be a unanimous vote," said Ald. Bob Fioretti from the 2nd Ward, who was still undecided on Tuesday morning. He said he worried Emanuel's proposal to just about double the fees for water and sewer service over four years would drive more people from the city.

Also taking the night to think about it: 36th Ward Ald. Nick Sposato.

"I think there's maybe a couple no's for sure, and then maybe eight on-the-fencers," he guessed, including himself among the latter. "My yes or no vote isn't going to mean anything. I believe it's already decided. I just have to feel what I think is the right thing to do."

Sposato was elected alderman this past April, so this is his first budget process. He called it the "hardest thing I ever did in my life. It's pretty intense." Concerned about cuts at libraries, mental health clinics and the city's 911 center, Sposato said he'd do "soul searching" before the vote.

"Oh, I don't think they'll be any no votes," said 27th Ward Ald. Walter Burnett, with a laugh. "I'm just kidding. You know, I don't know. Maybe two or three."

Burnett, despite reservations about the gradual elimination of a $75 a year trash rebate for condo owners, said he planned to vote for the budget.

Last year, seven aldermen voted against the final spending plan of Mayor Richard Daley's career.

The council meets at 10 o'clock Wednesday morning.